The fourth day of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network Summer School programme continued with lectures on undercover operations and research, as well as tips for following paper trails in stories.
Former FBI undercover operative Stephen Salmieri told the journalists participating in the Summer School that undercover investigative work is extremely dangerous, which is why it should be used as sparingly and requires a lot of preparation.
In order to minimise security risks, Salmieri said that journalists working undercover should not change their personality. He also said that journalists should know their targets and research their sources, as well as keep in constant contact with their parent organisation.
"When doing investigations, know everything you can know your enemy. Let go of your ego and reduce tensions. If you come across as aggressive, the situation will quickly escalate," said Salmieri.
A perfect undercover agent, according to Salmieri, is a smart and aware person who listens carefully.
Two times Pulitzer Prize winner Eric Nalder gave the participants of the Summer School tips on how to gather material evidence and documents from companies and organisations. He emphasised the importance of physically going to organisations, carefully interviewing workers and using psychological tricks to control the communication with them.
Nalder also said that after gathering documents, journalists should organise them carefully.
“Always be organised. Use Excel or other spreadsheets to organise your documents, otherwise you might get lost in them,” said Nalder.
British journalist David Leigh also discussed the need to collect documents, but also highlighted that while writing the story, journalists should make sure to provide readers with several points of access.
“Provide photos, interviews, galleries and short clips. Presentation is key. Your story is useless if it does not reach the public,” said Leigh.
The BIRN Summer School is taking place this week in Slovenia with 30 journalists from Serbia, Slovenia, Kosovo, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Bulgaria, Austria, Estonia, France and Romania participating. It will finish on Friday.
The BIRN Summer School of Investigative Reporting 2013 is organised in cooperation with the Media Program South East Europe of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and with the support of the King Baudouin Foundation, the Belgian National Lottery, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo, the OSCE Mission to Serbia and USAID in Macedonia.
BIRN’s hard-hitting series of investigations into energy deals in Albania has generated widespread interest in the country.
BIRN Macedonia in partnership with the Center for Civil Communication has concluded a series of ten workshops aimed at boosting cooperation between journalists and the NGO sector.
Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN Kosovo) published its report on access to the public documents on Monday.
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina premiered its first feature documentary film entitled “Missing you…” at Sarajevo’s Meeting Point Cinema last night. The film addresses the difficulty that families have to face on their quest to find their missing loved ones.
BIRN’s legal advisor, Flutura Kusari, gave a lecture on media law at Prishtina School of Politics on June 2.
BIRN Kosovo legal advisor, Flutura Kusari, attended a roundtable in Gjakova titled “Ethics and Professionalism in Media” on June 26.
Vlad Odobescu, a Romanian investigative reporter and a participant in last year’s Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence, has won a Hubert Humphrey Fellowship in the United States.
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BIRN BiH) will present its latest documentary film dealing with the issue of missing persons entitled ‘Missing You…’ on July 3 at the Meeting Point Cinema in Sarajevo at 18.30pm.
The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Bosnia and Herzegovina - BIRN BiH - contributed to one of the largest campaigns ever launched against sexual violence in conflict, the Global Summit on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict that took place in London 10-13 June.
BIRN's film 'The Majority Starts Here' was shown at the centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels on Wednesday.